A reader comment has me reconsidering my stance on Jimmy Page’s authorship of “Stairway to Heaven.”
Not all the way reconsidering. I’m probably about a tenth less sure of my original position.
The thing is, however, I’m almost positive that Jimmy Page learned the guitar instrumental “Cry me a River” by Davy Graham, which includes several sections that sound far more like “Stairway” than Spirit’s “Taurus.”
The wistful black and white footage is taken from a 1959 BBC special about the then-rising trend of guitar music in Britain. Page would have been 15 when it aired. There were two television channels in the UK at the time. An already accomplished guitarist, Page almost certainly would have watched the show.
Also almost certain is Graham’s influence on Page as a guitarist. Graham pioneered the DAGAD guitar tuning, which Page used in Led Zeppelin. At the very least, Page would have been familiar with this performance. It’s probable that he would have learned how to play it and years later, either consciously or not, incorporate elements of it into “Stairway.”
But more importantly, it’s a really nice little performance. The film has a French New Wave feel and there’s a pretty girl and a
funny racist balloon. It’s worth your time. Thanks to Sam for the recommendation.
UPDATE: And thanks to Rob for pointing out that the balloon has a witch doctor caricature face on it and not, as I initially thought, just a cartoon face. Woops!